Apple and MSU collaborating to launch first U.S. Developer Academy in Detroit

Apple and Michigan State University are partnering on the tech giant's first United States-based developer academy, and it's in Detroit. Sarah Gretter is associate director of MSU's Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology and will be director of the academy when it launches in October.

Russ White 0:00
Apple and Michigan State University are partnering on the tech giants First United States based developer Academy and it's in Detroit. Sarah Gretter is Associate Director of MSU's Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, and director of the academy when it launches in October. Sarah, great to have you on MSU Today.

Sarah Gretter 0:22
Thank you, Russ. I'm happy to be here.

Russ White 0:24
Before we talk a little bit about the Academy. Tell me a little bit about you sort of describe your career path you're originally from France, what your your path to where you are at MSU? And what attracted you to MSU?

Sarah Gretter 0:38
that's a that's a good question. I like to always answer that question by saying that I am one of those exchange students who never exchanged back I came to the US about 15 years ago for for my studies, ended up staying here. I got my master's and education at Harvard, and came to MSU for my PhD in educational psychology and educational technologies, which is how I ended up working at the hub for Innovation and Learning and Technology at MSU, which was in its very first iteration and and a little bit in a in a startup mode within campus at that stage. And and here we are, we started a project with Apple about three and a half years ago. And it's been, it's been great to see it come to life in front of us.

Russ White 1:27
And Sarah, tell me more about MSU's Hub for Innovation and Learning and Technology. What's the mission? What do you do there?

Sarah Gretter 1:35
Yeah, so the the hub for innovation is quite interesting in its nature. There are few hubs for innovation in higher education. But the work that we do is designing for change in higher ed. What that means is focusing specifically on learning experience design. It can go from helping faculty members or units redesigning their curriculum, but it can also go all the way to creating a new learning experience like the apple developer Academy, which encompasses the whole process of building something from from zero to a whole launch in a few years.

Russ White 2:13
And how did this academy even get started with MSU? And the hub?

Sarah Gretter 2:18
Yes, so previously, Dr. Grable had started initial conversations with Apple about three and a half years ago. And we really decided to launch what we call the small bit. The small bed was piloting what we call the iOS design lab on campus, which was a very small version of what the academies are, and collaborating with multiple Apple teams to really bring that to life. The iOS Design Lab still exists on campus right now, and is really successful in attracting a diversity of backgrounds and interests from students at MSU, who are interested in app development and understanding the basics of coding design and entrepreneurship within the apple ecosystem. And Sara grettir, you're

Russ White 3:01
the first ever female director of an apple developer Academy. Is that a big deal a little Deal or No Deal?

Sarah Gretter 3:08
It looks like it is I'm really excited to be in that position. We know that diversity in the tech industry is a big hurdle. And being the first woman to lead an academy is an honor, but also something that I'm really adamant about in embedding within the fabric of how we build the Academy. So not only are we the first Academy in the United States, we're also the very first one that's under Apple's new racial equity and justice initiative, which means that we are looking at this educational opportunity and just learning experience in the tech industry and around technology in general, from that very lens of diversity in the tech industry.

Russ White 3:51
And Sarah, can you talk us through exactly what an apple developer Academy is?

Sarah Gretter 3:56
Of course, yeah, so Apple has Apple developer academies worldwide, I think we are the 15th one to be open and there are more to come around the globe. Apple developer Academy is really focused on the app economy in general and creating pathways for new tech leaders and this 21st century, we cover basics of coding design and entrepreneurship within the apple ecosystem. And we'll use what Apple calls challenge based learning to get to the core of using technology to solve the world's biggest challenges. And students have their own experiences that they'll go through in the academy but they really learn to network and and communicate and collaborate with industry and community partners to work on solutions that really will have a real impact in the community and, and around them. And Sarah, when

Russ White 4:53
you become director in October when the academy opens, what will your role be and who's leading the teaching in the instruction at the academy?

Sarah Gretter 5:02
That's a great question. So in my role right now in supporting the the process, and making sure that all the teams are talking to each other, and that the process is as seamless as possible until we launch. Once we launch as the director, my responsibility will mostly be ensuring that everything functions in terms of operations, but also ensuring that the staff and the mentors that are going to be teaching in the academy have all the support that they need. on my end, as I represent MSU, in this process, and in this project, we are ensuring that the mentors are really the core of the work that we provide. But really, at the end of the day, my job will make sure that students are having the best experience that they can, in this educational and learning environment that MSU and Apple is creating from them. With support from from our close partners, the mentors themselves will be doing most of the teaching every day. And I'm looking forward to having that that team in that cohort start with us fairly soon this summer.

Russ White 6:05
What are apple and Ms us goals related to Academy outcomes.

Sarah Gretter 6:09
So it will vary from Academy to Academy, it will vary from student to student, the outcomes really is ensuring that students have the pathway that they are interested in. What is fascinating with Apple developer academies worldwide is that we're looking at app economy, app economy and app development in its entirety. So it's quite different from a coding boot camp, if you will, where some students pathways might be in project management and might be in product ownership or in business. And we're looking for outcomes that will produce wealth generation within the community, but also for those students who might be interested in in either pursuing further education or going into the industry and getting a job. So we're looking forward to seeing what those outcomes will be and how we can make sure that we achieve them.

Russ White 7:00
And why did Apple select Detroit and MSU as its first US Academy location.

Sarah Gretter 7:06
So the relationship that we built with Apple over the years, I think, was a great factor in that obviously, the iOS design app was the first stepping stone in building the confidence that Apple has an MSU to provide that opportunity for students. Detroit has a rich ecosystem in entrepreneurship and technology. And we are really excited to be part of the vibrant, existing ecosystem. Detroit is quite unique in many ways. And MSU has had long, long term relationships with with the city and we're happy to to continue that relationship and and be embedded within that community. And what exactly can students who are accepted expect to get out of their year at

Russ White 7:50
the Academy,

Sarah Gretter 7:51
so many things. Obviously, the the pathways that I mentioned is as one of the the main outcomes, but really the relationships that they will build with each other as what we're looking forward to the most, exploring different life pathways or professional pathways that they might not have expected starting the Academy is going to be one of the most surprising expectations that we'll see happen. But we've seen and we've learned from other academies that often individuals meet future business partners in the academy and build businesses out of the work that they do together, or might just make friends for life, which is also a great outcome.

Russ White 8:29
Where can prospective students apply and find more information? Yes, we have a website, it is called developer academy@msu.edu. Applications are open for students until the end of this month. And they are right there on the website. And Sarah, it's along with MSU and Apple, the Gilbert Family Foundation, in partnership with the rock family of companies are supporting the new Apple developer Academy in Detroit in in a big way. Just talk about the importance of their involvement.

Sarah Gretter 9:00
Yeah, we are so excited to partner and be supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation and rock family of companies. We have worked and communicated with those group for for quite some time now and envisioning what that support could look like and how we will partner in the future. So we are really thrilled for this gift and the potential that it will create for the academy itself.

Russ White 9:23
So Sarah summarize what you'd like us to know about this, the beginning of this apple developer Academy with MSU in Detroit,

Sarah Gretter 9:32
yes. So what I'm really excited to see is the chord of students that will will bring to the academy the changes that they will do, through the work that they do not only in the community and the work themselves but for the tech industry and, and and the technology that inhabits our day to day lives. Really excited for the work to happen and and to see those students go through the program and be successful.

Russ White 9:58
That's Sarah grettir. She's Associate Director of Michigan State University's hub for innovation in Learning and Technology. And come October, she will be director of the apple developers Academy that's in Detroit and partnering with MSU. And again, all the information you need is that developer academy.msu.edu Sara great having you on the program today. Thank you, Russ. I'm Russ white. This is MSU today

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